Rapid changes are irrevocably shifting the advertising industry. With global demand for increased privacy protection and security-centric updates from search engines, browsers, and app marketplaces, it can sometimes feel to brands like their marketing efforts are being hobbled. 

And they are, for sure. But that does not mean brands are stuck in place. 

There are still ways brands can reach out to consumers effectively and get their messages in front of potential buyers while still staying compliant with the new rules. 

One way brands can achieve this is through contextual targeting. 

We spoke with Jack Johnston, Senior Manager, Paid Social at Tinuiti, and Leah Smith, Director of Key Accounts, Mid-Market at Reddit on this very topic on our 2022 Social Media Advertising Series. We covered some highlights of their session below. 
 

What is Contextual Targeting?

 
Contextual targeting is the process of placing ads on a website based on the on-page content. This helps ensure that the ad content is relevant and timely to the needs of the consumer while at the same time protecting their privacy rights. 

One example of this could be placing ads for children’s clothing on a blog article about parenting. 
 

How does Contextual Targeting work?

 
Contextual targeting utilizes session data information to assess a user’s intent and interest, instead of cookie-based behavioral targeting that advertisers used to leverage in the past. 

There are three levels of contextual targeting that advertisers can work with: category contextual targeting, keyword contextual targeting, and semantic targeting
 

Category contextual targeting

 
In category contextual targeting, ads are targeted to pages based on pre-assigned page categories. It’s by far the simplest form of contextual targeting, and thus the least accurate in terms of matching relevance and need. 
 

Keyword contextual targeting

 
Keyword contextual targeting is a step up from category targeting in that ads are served to pages that match specific target keywords. It allows for lots more flexibility in ad targeting will result in better relevance to the user. 
 

Semantic targeting

 
Semantic targeting is the most advanced form of contextual targeting. Instead of just matching keywords or categories to an ad, it relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence to read the context of the page and serve up the ads that are most relevant to what is being discussed. 
 

Why is Contextual Targeting more valuable than ever before?

 
Firefox and Safari have already stopped using third-party cookies, and although Google has delayed its own move to phase out cookies, the writing is on the wall and marketers are already attempting to adjust to a cookie-less advertising industry. 

This move towards greater user privacy protection is why contextual targeting is so valuable now, and will only get more valuable moving forward. 

There is NO user information that is being collected with contextual targeting, which means brands can intelligently target ads while staying compliant with GDPR, CCPA, and other privacy laws. 
 

What role does Reddit play in Contextual Targeting?

 
Online communities like Reddit embody everything that contextual targeting is about. Reddit has thousands of sub-groups (called “subreddits”) that each have their own niche interests. 

We’re talking super niche. Not even the general categories of groups are the same. There could be a car subreddit dedicated to buying a new vehicle, while another could be dedicated to restoring old antiques, and yet another dedicated to creating the flashiest custom cars imaginable–all on the same site. 

Insert Reddit’s own take on contextual targeting: Community Targeting. 

“Community Targeting is really what’s going to give Reddit that edge as an ad platform,” says Jack Johnston, Senior Manager, Paid Social at Tinuiti. 

“Reddit allows for some dynamic targeting opportunities for us to reach users when they’re in a high-intent mindset. That could be aligning with hot activations when key moments are happening in the news, or just finding an engaged customer that is looking to actually make a purchase.”

 
According to Johnston, “We have ad placements to help supplement targeting opportunities, and they’re present at every stage of the funnel.”

In “Social Performance Marketing, As We Once Knew It, is Dead [An Open Letter]“, Avi Ben-Zvi, VP of Paid Social at Tinuiti writes:

“A lot of pixel signals are harder to define, but contextual targeting can be a powerful play. Reddit excels here with a highly engaged, loyal userbase that has self-selected their true interests through the subreddits they follow. Beyond that Reddit offers some cool capabilities at reasonable costs. With Category Takeovers you can target a theme of subreddits for 24 hours and be the top ad in said subreddits.”

“The cost ranges from $5k-$20k, a far cry from the usual “reservation costs” you hear about. The results are emphatically good, and it gives you a canvas to really impact users in a smart way. One of our ecommerce brands launched a Category Takeover for one day and they saw a 58% increase in efficiency for their standard performance campaigns afterward.”

Interested in exploring the possibilities of contextual targeting? Check out our recent recording of Tinuiti’s 2022 Social Series, or contact us and learn more about how to accurately target users while staying compliant with GDPR. 

Tinuiti is delighted to announce that we are now a Reddit partner! Want to learn more? Check out the announcement here.

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